The Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) is in the process of implementing a plan to transform its lowest performing schools. Key components of this plan include:
- Focusing the district’s central office on school oversight and the coordination of essential functions (such as enrollment and data systems)
- Transferring authority and resources to schools in exchange for accountability
- Investing and phasing in high leverage system reforms (such as talent recruitment and high quality preschool education) across all schools
SchoolWorks is partnering with CMSD to support the implementation of this plan. SchoolWorks has developed a protocol for a school quality review process aligned to the district’s initiatives and school performance framework. This protocol will support the district’s efforts to monitor the effectiveness of its schools and ensure that students have access to high quality educational opportunities.
SchoolWorks is currently piloting this protocol in 10 CMSD schools. Site visit teams consisting of representatives from both SchoolWorks and the district are visiting each of these schools for 2 ½ days. Each team spends the first two days on site observing classrooms, conducting focus groups, and reviewing documents in order to rate the school in nine key categories. On the third day, the team works with school leaders to prioritize an area for improvement and develop an action plan that will promote the school’s ongoing improvement efforts.
These visits are not only guiding improvement efforts and helping the district monitor its schools, but also helping the district build its own capacity to monitor its schools. SchoolWorks has trained district personnel on the use of its protocol and classroom visit tool, and included district representatives as team members on each visit. This introduction to the school review process is increasing district capacity so that one day they might manage this work without an external partner.
As our work in Cleveland is just beginning, it is too soon to measure the precise impact of our work. However, we are checking in with district leaders regularly to reflect on the school quality review process and ensure that our work is meeting their needs. We are open to suggestions and feedback from the district, and continue to explore the best ways to meet the needs of the district and plan for their eventual takeover of this work.